My Faith Journey as a Survivor of Rape - A Letter from Carly Bosse

Carly Bosse

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My Dear Sisters in Christ,

I imagine I am not the only one who has ever had their faith shaken.  I imagine that I am not the only one who has ever chosen to hide themselves in darkness.  I know that others will have similar stories, because sin isn’t unique, but this is a deep part of my story that has shaped the way that I have come to know Christ’s deep and everlasting love for me.

As a little girl, I fell in love with our Heavenly Father.  Through joy and sorrow, I would write him songs of praise and pray with such fervor that my little 8-year-old self I would cry.  This faith was beautifully childlike, but when I was 16-years-old, this unbeatable faith, came face-to-face with a mountain.  

"As a little girl, I fell in love with our Heavenly Father. ...This faith was beautifully childlike, but when I was 16-years-old, this unbeatable faith, came face-to-face with a mountain."

At 16-years-old, I was raped by a boy who decided that he could determine my worth.  For two and a half years, I plunged into a deep darkness.  I had faced tragedy before, but nothing like this pain I was feeling. I never blamed the Lord for what happened, but I also had no idea how to let Him into this hurt. I felt in some ways that I was tainted, like there was something more I could have done that would’ve stopped this abuse from happening.  

"At 16-years-old, I was raped by a boy who decided that he could determine my worth.  For two and a half years, I plunged into a deep darkness. ...I was ashamed and I remember wondering how the Lord could possibly love me like this."

I was ashamed and I remember wondering how the Lord could possibly love me like this. It didn’t happen all at once, but one thing I remember is that the rosary I prayed every night before I went to sleep, was not as much of a priority; What used to be my favorite thing, prayer, began to feel like a chore because I wasn’t feeling the Lord’s presence anymore. I was so isolated from the Father that I no longer knew who I was.  I had always identified myself by the Father; I had always known I was His, but as a 16-year-old victim of sexual abuse, I no longer felt like I was loveable and I no longer felt like that was my identity. I was overwhelmed by this brokenness and, because I no longer felt worthy of love and goodness, I allowed other boys to use me. 

"I was so isolated from the Father that I no longer knew who I was.  I had always identified myself by the Father; I had always known I was His, but as a 16-year-old victim of sexual abuse, I no longer felt like I was loveable and I no longer felt like that was my identity." 

Instead of climbing over this mountain placed before me, I dug a hole for myself that was so deep, I could no longer see light.  I stopped going to church when I went to college and for that first year away from home, I had no intention of allowing Christ in. I was comfortable in my dark hole. I knew that if I came back into the light, I would be faced by this mountain again and I was terrified of the thought of dealing with that pain.

Thankfully though, the comfort that I sought in darkness is not where this story ends. My sisters, the glory of this letter is that this is the story of how the Lord slowly and patiently walked with me, guided me, back into his light.

"Thankfully though, the comfort that I sought in darkness is not where this story ends."

Right before my sophomore year of college, I was asked to be a youth group leader by an old friend who was looking for help and for whatever reason, I couldn’t say no. I don’t just mean that I was too nice to say no, I mean that there was something inside of me that would not, by any means, allow me to say no. I went to the first meeting and met the community of leaders that I would be working with. They were so kind and welcoming to me.  I was thrown off by the abundance of love that they gave to a total stranger. 

At this point, I was a little peeved because now I had to go to mass and I had to set an example for the teens I would be serving.  Slowly and quietly, though quite reluctantly, I began to relinquish my hold on this darkness and hurt, and then all of a sudden, I was running to the light of mercy.  

"They were so kind and welcoming to me.  I was thrown off by the abundance of love that they gave to a total stranger."

After every youth group meeting, I felt a tug on my heart from the Lord and it grew stronger every week.  I felt the Lord’s love come through again, though in a much deeper way than before.  As I came out of my darkness, I knew that the Lord was weeping with me.  Through the love and support of my new community, specifically, the sisterhood that I had been graced with, I finally made the decision to go to confession.  After I confessed my sins and wept for my brokenness from the past two and a half years, I was expecting disapproval and punishment, but the priest looked on me with the love and tenderness of the Father, gave me penance and absolved me of sin. I left thinking, “how could it have possibly been that easy, didn’t he hear me?” but I felt this immense peace that I had not felt in years. I was overwhelmed by the light of faith once more. I was again, face to face with this massive mountain, but accompanied by this new and faithful sisterhood and armed with my rosary and the knowledge of Christ’s mercy, I was somehow unafraid. I began climbing my mountain.  

"As I came out of my darkness, I knew that the Lord was weeping with me."

What could have been the end of my journey in faith, the Lord somehow used to strengthen my faith. Through this experience, Jesus showed me how far he is willing to go to win my heart.  He showed me a fraction of how far he is willing to go to win YOUR heart.  He will move mountains, he will dig you out of your hole, he will dive into the depths where you are drowning, and if you trust him, he will transform you.  He will make you new.   

"Through this experience, Jesus showed me how far he is willing to go to win my heart.  He showed me a fraction of how far he is willing to go to win your heart."

This journey to healing hasn’t been an easy one.  It’s a mountain that I am still climbing, and I am confident that the Lord continually guides my steps. Shortly after my initial transformation, I began reading Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei. I recommend this entire encyclical to everyone, but I will leave you with this one quote: “There is no human experience, no journey of man to God, which cannot be taken up, illumined and purified by this light [of faith]” (Lumen Fidei 35). 

"This journey to healing hasn’t been an easy one.  It’s a mountain that I am still climbing, and I am confident that the Lord continually guides my steps."

My dear sisters, I know that I am not alone now.  I know that Christ’s love for me and his mercy are new every morning. If you are struggling with sin and brokenness, if you are a survivor of sexual abuse, I urge you: bring it to the light. Talk to your sisters in Christ; seek counsel; go to confession, not because you have done anything wrong, but because you have been wronged and you need to know how much the Lord loves you, especially in your brokenness; do not let the evil one trick you into thinking that you are all alone. You are NOT alone.  Bring it to the light.  Allow Christ’s light to purify your brokenness. 

I love you and I am praying for you. 

In Christ,

Carly

"...If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, I urge you: bring it to the light. Talk to your sisters in Christ; seek counsel; go to confession, not because you have done anything wrong, but because you have been wronged and you need to know how much the Lord loves you, especially in your brokenness; do not let the evil one trick you into thinking that you are all alone."


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My Faith Journey as a Survivor of Rape - A Letter from Carly Bosse

About Carly Bosse

Hi! My name is Carly Bosse. I’m 23 years old and I am the Campus Minister at the University of South Florida. I graduated college last year and immediately went into college ministry and Christ has blessed me abundantly every step of the way.

I love my family, my friends, my job, a good rainstorm enjoyed with a cup of tea (or coffee depending on the day) and a good book. I love mountains, sunsets, C.S. Lewis, St. Catherine Laboure, Mark 5:41, and my one true love has been, is, and will always be Jesus.


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